The filamentous fungus Penicillium cyclopium conidiates in the presence of calcium ions in submerged culture without nutrient limitation according to a precisely timed program. Conidiation could be prematurely induced in a nutritionally sufficient medium which had previously supported growth, suggesting that a metabolite which influenced the process was produced. A diterpenoid with conidiation-inducing activity, conidiogenone, was purified from the culture medium, along with conidiogenol, a putative derivative with delayed activity. Contrary to previous thought, the presence of calcium was demonstrated to only decrease the threshold concentration of conidiogenone required for the induction to proceed. In light of these results, a mechanism of conidiation induction is presented according to which the mycelium produces a conidiation inducer (conidiogenone) that accumulates extracellularly. When a threshold concentration is reached, induction likely takes place by interaction with a specific cellular receptor. The results indicate that conidiogenone is both sufficient and necessary to induce conidiation.